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An expression of emotion

Lionel Sainsbury
talks to Keith Bramich


English composer Lionel Sainsbury's Violin Concerto -- which was given a broadcast studio première by the BBC -- is to receive its first public performance at the Three Choirs Festival this month (August 2002). 'I'm really delighted that Worcester's Artistic Director Adrian Lucas has programmed it, and also will be conducting it himself at such a prestigious and historic festival,' he says. 'The Three Choirs has a great tradition of presenting the music of English composers, and is after all the longest established musical festival in Europe'.

Worcester Cathedral. Photo: Keith Bramich
Worcester Cathedral.
Photo: Keith Bramich

One of the Festival's themes is the William Walton centenary, and Sainsbury's concerto is to be programmed alongside Walton. This is particularly fitting, since Sainsbury freely acknowledges Walton's influence. 'He has this feeling of tension and resolution, and somehow finds a way of retaining that all-important factor -- an ebb and flow -- a feeling of dissonance that then resolves. Above all in his greatest masterpieces there is that passionate intensity which is incredibly exhilarating.'

Lionel Sainsbury. Photo: Keith Bramich
Lionel Sainsbury.
Photo: Keith Bramich

Born in Wiltshire in 1958, Lionel Sainsbury was naturally drawn to music, and has been writing his own since he was knee-high. He studied at London's Guildhall School of Music with M&V's Patric Standford, who remembers the younger composer as 'a splendid and extremely interesting, enthusiastic student -- the rare kind one looks back on with pride and pleasure!' Sainsbury, in turn, is grateful to Standford for a 'hands-off' teaching approach which didn't impinge on Sainsbury's search to find his own musical style. It's a style that is tonal and traditional-sounding, full of passion, almost romantic, even, with detectable influences from North America (Gershwin and Barber) and from Spain.

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Copyright © 4 August 2002 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK





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